Note: Thanks to my beta t_geyer for her unending patience, perseverance and support.
SECTION 4 - ELSEWHERE
I love the time and in between
The calm inside me
In the space where I can breathe
I believe there is a distance I have wandered
To touch upon the years of
Reaching out and reaching in
Holding out and holding in
This is heaven to no one else but me
And I'll defend it
As long as I can be
Left here to linger in silence
If I choose to
Would you try to understand?
(Sarah McLachlan, Album - Fumbling Towards Ecstasy)
Thanks also to Emma for suggesting this way back
when I started FTE, even if it did take me three
months to follow through.
Hope she's still reading.
Sunday, May 19th, 2002
Buffy eyed the drip that was attached to her arm impatiently. "Can you ask him if there's any way to hurry this thing up?"
Before either Bee or Spike could respond the demon simply gave her what she took to be a stern look and shook his head. Spike gave the smallest of smiles and told his fiancée. "That's why it's called drip, not a torrent. Your turn to do what the doctor tells you."
"Well, someone needs to go check on what the bunch from LA are up to and I don't think you should be going too far from the doctor just yet. And sunlight."
All eyes in the room, except those of the doctor, who was unaware of the significance of the comment, turned to Wesley.
Wes shrugged. "I do know them rather better as a group than anyone else... and while I have no intention of issuing an invitation to my home to a vampire who recently tried to kill me, I'll not have it said that I hid away from them either."
Bee stood up from her seat on the floor. "I've got your back. That kid over there needs a lesson in manners anyway, whispering behind people's backs. I'm more human than he is, whatever he is, so it's not as if he had room to say anything in the first place."
Spike sighed. "Sounds like Uncle Connor takes after his old man in the charm department... or it could be dear old Darla showing through in the genes. I would say he doesn't mean anything by it, pet, but I'd like as not be lying. Let's just say he's hopefully in the process of being re-educated."
"Well, it can't happen too soon."
Tara frowned. "Maybe I should go. I mean, I live there and I don't have any tubes attached."
Bee indicated the ice-pack the girl still held to her forehead. "We're trying to get rid of that headache of yours, not make it worse." She then nodded to where the Siamese was curled in the other girl's lap. "Not to mention the fur ball deserves his sleep after his little trek."
"If they'll buy it, you could try telling them to go over to my place an' make themselves at home. You know what the keys look like. Think they're on the dresser in our room. Tell them to order some food in or something, get some kip if any of them need it, give us some peace. It could be a while before we're done here," Spike suggested.
"And tell Angel there's something I need to see him about later, but I'll call him at Spike's apartment. Brandon, you better give them the keys so they can move Spike's car," Buffy added.
The door closed behind the two of them and Giles turned his gaze on the blonde couple. "More human than he is? Uncle Connor? Would anyone care to tell me what's going on here?"
Spike shrugged. "Well, she doesn't smell human but I'd guess from what she just said that she's half an' half. Didn't see as it made any difference. Up to her if she wanted to bring it up, which she has now, so...
An' I figure uncle is the right title for grandpa's kid. 'Course seein' how Dru sired his mum he gets to call me uncle too, not as he would."
"I beg your pardon?" Giles asked somewhat indignantly as he turned his attention to Buffy.
"Darla, Angel's sire, brought back from the dead as a human?" Buffy supplied somewhat hesitantly. "Drusilla with the making into a vamp again? Then her and Angel with the... em, well, I'm sure you can figure that bit out and... Boom, prophesy baby? Well, not boom as such. I think it took about nine months... but you know? Kidnapped by time travelling psycho from the sixteen, no - add one - eighteenth century, taken to a hell dimension, one week for Angel, sixteen, seventeen years for kid then back to LA so not much difference. Did we forget to explain all this?"
Giles simply treated Buffy to the coldest of glares, leaving Brandon to break the silence.
"That does kinda explain the social skills."
Buffy sipped at the tea Giles had made for everyone (after he finished remonstrating with them all about how useful telephones could be) and frowned as she watched Spike drink his with lemon rather than milk, peering as intently as she could from her supine position at his forehead.
"Spike, you're sweating."
The vampire touched a hand to his face. "Could be steam... well, condensation from the tea," he responded but he sounded unconvinced. The doctor bustled over with his bag and extracting a thermometer, he held it out to the vampire while giving more instructions in his native language.
The vampire stuck the glass tube under his tongue with obvious reluctance.
"Can we start drawing off some more blood, yet?" Buffy asked, pressing the pouch with the orbs back into his hands, no longer caring who saw or what they made of the ensuing light show.
The doctor shook his head once more, offering up an explanation that only Spike was able to understand. Using the others' lack of comprehension as an excuse, the vampire removed the foreign object from his mouth and clarified. "The doc says he's willing to take more from you, but not before that drip is empty. He doesn't want to take any more from Bit unless he has to and her blood isn't going to be as potent anyway because as a percentage less of it will be her own by the time she gets that second pint put back and he's none too happy about takin' more from our little felon there unless he has real blood to replace it with instead of saline."
The doctor gave another whistle and Spike rolled his eyes and stuck the thermometer back in his mouth.
"Great. Doesn't he understand that we're slayers? We don't need to be coddled." She turned her puppy dog eyes on the doctor directly. "Can't you just hook us back up? Well, not Dawn, but it's not like me or Faith are about to keel over."
The doctor made another stream of clicking noises but this time even Spike didn't dare remove the thermometer under his firm gaze. The vampire simply shook his head and waited for the doctor to reach out and take the thermometer from his mouth.
The intervening minutes seemed like hours to Buffy before the blood bag attached to her left arm was finally empty and the doctor hooked up another bag to her right arm for her to fill.
"Are you sure you two are related?" Bee called out to Spike even as she and Wes made their way back into the house. "It's like trying to party with a funeral director making conversation with that one... Talk about awkward silences... And we couldn't get them to shift until sun down."
"Wish we weren't, but that's the way things go. I just got all the charisma for the whole family."
"Oh-oh." Bee's and Wes's eyes were drawn to the slowly filling blood bag on Buffy's right as they entered the main room. "This can't be good."
"Well, I guess I wasn't doin' quite so good as I thought."
Giles explained about the doctor's reluctance to take more blood from either Dawn or Faith. Though the explanation was for the benefit of both Bee and Wes his attention seemed to be on Wes as he spoke and it appeared there was good reason.
Wes turned to the doctor. "Hook her up. She'll get the blood." The former watcher removed his jacket and started rolling up his shirt sleeve. "Go on, man," he urged as the doctor recovered from his surprise and began to go to work on Faith once more.
"W-Wes?" Faith stuttered when she realised what he was proposing. "I can't. I mean... there's no way I can take your blood."
"Really? And yet you had no problem spilling it on the floor?
What's past is past, Faith. I'm not saying it's forgiven and it's certainly not forgotten but it can be laid aside. Here and now you are trying to do something good, something which helps someone I think I could even call my friend and it would be churlish in the extreme if I were to hamper you in the attempt by withholding my cooperation."
The slayer looked ill at ease with his attempt to make peace as if she were more accustomed with having to fight to the last. Still, she bit back the barbs that sprang more readily to her tongue. "Wes, I know you're not doing it for me, but... well, thanks."
The girl's former watcher managed a strained smile and a nod of acknowledgement before, to his relief, the doctor ushered him upstairs.
The waiting seemed to go on forever. It occurred to Buffy that no one had ever said that slayer blood was a guaranteed cure, simply that it had been effective on at least two previous occasions. Spike had now drunk a total of ten pints of her, Faith's and Dawn's blood, but the last two pints that she and Faith had each given had seemed to have far less effect compared with the blood they had contributed before they received transfusions. It was as if the poison knew they were trying to cheat it.
Faith had had to receive two pints of Wes's blood in the end with the watcher in turn being given saline solution to top up his fluid levels. Still, they were all waiting to see if they had been successful. Spike had set aside the orbs for the third time and this time Buffy was wondering if she even dared to hope.
"Will you lot give over?" Spike snapped, his patience strained as everyone seemed to be nervously watching him, waiting for the first sign that even more blood was needed. He snatched up his coat from where it was draped over the back of Buffy's couch and headed for the back porch, taking his cigarettes and lighter from his pockets as he left.
Trapped, as much by her word to the vampire that she would play safe as the drip in her arm, Buffy twisted, trying to see where he had gone, until she noticed Tara pick up the cat from her lap and pass it back to its owner. She gave Buffy a reassuring smile. "I'll make sure he's not about to collapse out there."
"Got one to spare?" the Wiccan asked as she joined the vampire in Wes's backyard.
"For you, love? 'Course I have... Not as Buffy would approve."
"We just better not tell her, then," the honey blonde answered with a mischievous smile.
Spike flipped open the top of the packet and with a practiced flick to its base made a cigarette rise up so that it was easier for Tara to pull it from the pack. Even before she had raised the cigarette to her lips the pack had disappeared into a pocket and Spike's Zippo was lit, ready for her to simply lean in towards its heat.
Spike used a leather clad arm to clear the encroaching undergrowth away from a wooden bench, making space for them both to sit down and for several minutes they simply sat in silence, Spike drawing on his cigarette as if it were a lifeline and Tara blowing delicate smoke rings.
Finally, the vampire spoke, his voice full of wonder. "How did I end up here, pet? How did I get to where there's a whole house full of people sitting worrying whether I'm going to be alright? When did I start calling a bloody watcher of all people my friend?"
Tara kept her eyes on the distant horizon and answered unhurriedly between draws on her cigarette. "I can't answer for the when part... but the how is simple. You earned it. Faith obviously has her own reasons, and I hear the doctor talked Bee into going on a date with his brother in lieu of payment but everybody else is there quite simply because they know that you wouldn't do any less for them."
"I was going to own the Hellmouth. I had all the vamps in town eatin' out of my hand and she was the only thing that stopped me."
Tara shrugged. "The Hellmouth's overrated. I can't imagine that it's very homey."
"Guess not. But more vamp-like than the bloody Waltons in there."
"Maybe, but why would you want to be another Dracula when he never even got the girl?"
"Too damn right Count Cliche didn't get my girl... An' he still owes me eleven quid."
Tara blew a last set of smoke rings before stubbing out her butt under her shoe and picking it up to put in the trash later. "Don't keep her waiting too long or she'll be pulling out those tubes and coming looking for you. She's not really the patient type."
Spike sighed, realising his own cigarette had already burnt down to the filter. "Right behind you, turtle dove."
When Tara and Spike returned to the living room, everyone except Buffy scrupulously kept their eyes on the TV screen which was now showing a classic film from the watcher's DVD collection. The vampire couldn't help but smile. Even his sensitivity about being observed was being catered to. He quietly lowered himself to the floor by Buffy's makeshift bed, letting his head drop back to rest against her side. He knew the gentle hand that played with his curls was also occasionally checking his forehead for telltale beads of perspiration but that was something he could easily live with for the soothing sensation that lulled him gently to sleep. Rogue soon capitalised on his passivity. His lap once more doubling for a pillow, she joined the slayer's vigil.
A second film followed the first and evening turned into night before, at last, the doctor gave the newly roused vampire the all clear and packed his bags. Buffy guiltily remembered her promise to call Angel, not to mention Lily and Anya but Tara effortlessly discerned her reluctance to leave Spike's side for even a minute.
"I'll call them. What do you want me to say?"
"Tell them he's okay. Ask Angel to stay tomorrow. Faith, there's a sofa across the street with your name on it if you want it."
The brunette slayer looked surprised but too tired to argue. "Sure, if you're okay with that."
"Tell Angel that Faith's staying here and we can deal with the rest tomorrow. For now, it's crisis over."
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